Working Dogs and Handlers
Police officers work with special units that make use of their dogs’ skills. Thornton says, “They work fire scenes; public transportation venues, such as subway stations, train stations, or airports; and large public events that may be the subject of bomb threats. They may also check vehicles or buildings for drugs or other contraband,” (Chapter 28). The Central Intelligence Agency; the U.S Postal Service; the Secret Service; the Drug Enforcement Administration and many more use dogs in their teams. Some of the most known areas the dogs are in are tracking, substance detection, police enforcement and cadaver. Other type of areas for dogs are arson or they are also known as accelerant-detection K9’s.These dogs are trained to sniff out traces of accelerants or other substances used to set fires. Their job is to investigate fire scenes and to determine a fire’s cause. More than 200 arson dog teams are at work in the United States and even in Canada. The handlers have to trust their dogs like any team does with a human partner. Once the dog alerts that something is there, the handler has to investigate further. The trainers need to establish a bond with the dog that will also become their family. At school’s for handlers and dogs to learn arson detections, they have simulated fire scenes, they learn how to locate and identify tiny drops of accelerants and the fuels used to start fires. Those schools also have challenges the handlers and their dogs face like wet grass, wet buildings, mud, ashes and burnt debris. Dogs aren’t the only ones who have to learn things. “Their handlers must also learn to identify hazards, such as dangerous debris or weakened areas that could endanger their dogs or themselves,” says Thornton (404). To maintain the handler and dogs’ skills they must be recertified annually.
Explosive Detection Dog teams are the most effective countermeasure available today for detection of explosives. Explosive Detection Dogs are used by police departments, government agencies, and the military. “The job of the dog-handler teams is to protect people and property from criminal or terrorist use of explosives,” states Thornton (404). They conduct routine searches of buildings, vehicles, materials, packages, and people. They respond to bomb threats and are on call twenty-four hours a day. There are centers to train handlers and dogs to prepare them for the field. Most of the handlers are already employed in government or local police departments but almost anyone can attend. Dogs and handlers who are not with government get hired right away after graduating the program by agencies and organizations. The Department of Energy, the U.S Coast Guard, the U.S Secret Service Technical Services and the Federal Protective Service hire the dogs and handlers after graduating. The dogs and handlers must practice their skills frequently because you never know when you are going to get a call.
Thornton says, “Police dog handlers...